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Change is the only Constant for Coconut Farmers Hence the Need to Manage Change through 2015”

("The Cocommunity" - Monthly APCC Newsletter
Volume 45, Series No. 1, 1 January 2015)

Changes in climatic conditions, market trends, produce prices, consumer demands and even government policies affecting trade are to be the order of the year, it may seem. Innovations in technologies and farming practices for improved productivity and cost-effectiveness are also amongst the positive changes that would assure stakeholders of viability. All such change require of those affected ‘smart’ measures to manage them effectively.

The global market trends and trading outlook for coconut products would be amongst key focus areas for stakeholders this year. Many continue to weigh the benefits of continuing with the traditional copra and crude coconut oil production against emerging non-traditional products of much higher market value though needing investment in appropriate technologies, equipment, machinery, infrastructures and market arrangements.

Copra prices offered to farmers is determined by the movement in prices for coconut oil (CNO). By December 2013 the CNO prices rose to US$1,268/MT and maintained that level through to holding higher in July 2014 at US$1,304/MT. Based on current price trend and the predicted long term impact of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines as the main CNO producer, it is estimated that the price of CNO would increase, though at lower rates, at least for two to three years ahead. In comparison Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) prices peaked at US$1,383/MT in March 2014 but declined to US$967/MT through December 2014.

Amongst the non-traditional products of coconut the price of desiccated coconut (DC) increased significantly from US$1,587/MT in August 2013 to US$2,861/MT in August 2014. Increase in production of Virgin Coconut Oil and Coconut Water follows encouraging price movements during 2014. Under the circumstances coconut farmers would seize the opportunity to sell whole or de-husked whole nuts to buyers and processors. Whilst this could be economically beneficial to farmers it would affect the already declining production of CNO.

Of importance is knowledge of the supply chain for coconut products and the ability to manage that well enough to reap the benefits. In a ‘buyer-led’ market a major concern would be the fragmented state of small farmers that would prevent the maximizing of returns through economies of scale created when they are united in formal structures with more bargaining advantage on how much they should be paid for their produce.

Changes in government policies over time have deregulated and withdrawn marketing functions in commodity organization in most Pacific states, leaving the industry in a ‘free-for-all’ trading mode that may not necessarily be in the best interest of the coconut farmers. Maximizing returns to coconut farmers may have been part of government obligation is not always amongst the mission mandates of the private sector. This would no doubt require the strengthening of national institutions to facilitate well for farmers ensuring there is more equitable trade that enables all parties in the supply chain to be viable.

APCC regrets the loss to the global coconut sector with the passing of Late Dr. Amporn Winotai of Thailand and Dr. S.P. Singh of India who have both contributed immensely with their vast knowledge and experience on pests and diseases of coconut.

The APCC Secretariat takes this opportunity to congratulate and welcome Mrs. Deepthi R Nair of India who has recently joined as the new Assistant Director and the new Market Development Officer Mr. Alit Pirmansah of Indonesia. The Secretariat wishes for all farmers, partners and stakeholders in the coconut sector a prosperous new year.

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